Masonry Council Urges Action to Prevent Storm, Fire Deaths, Injuries; Calls on Texas Cities to Enact Stronger Building Standards

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The Texas Masonry Council in a recent letter urged Texas municipal officials to do more to prevent wild fire and windstorm-related deaths and injuries by strengthening local building standards.

Texas municipal officials can and should do more to prevent wild fire and windstorm-related deaths and injuries by strengthening local building standards, says the Texas Masonry Council.

In a recent letter to city government leaders throughout North Texas, TMC Executive Vice President Rudy Garza states:

“With the recent tornados in the area, and the continuing drought conditions conducive to wild fires, now is the perfect time to take a closer look at your construction standards to ensure that they are protecting the health, safety and welfare of your citizens to the best of their ability.

“There are two simple facts about true masonry products such as brick, block, and stone: 1) they simply will not burn, and 2) they are much more durable against windblown debris than other building products such as fiber cement siding. Many of the cities in the DFW Metroplex and North Texas have been proactive in adopting masonry construction standards through their zoning ordinances, development codes, or even by amending their local building codes.”

Garza noted that percentages and definitions of masonry vary across the North Texas region. Today the average masonry requirements in the region call for 65 percent of residential exterior walls to be masonry and 80 percent of commercial exterior walls.

“The true problem is that some communities have mistakenly defined fiber cement (artificial wood) siding, tilt wall, and EIFS (artificial stucco) as masonry products,” Garza said. “Nothing could be further from the truth… None of these products meets the (standard) building code definitions.”

Other exterior building materials can burn much more easily than true masonry products such as brick, block, and stone, which simply do not burn, Garza said.

“Research at Texas Tech University ( http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLBE3141DA88201AC1 ) and elsewhere has shown that only masonry or reinforced concrete walls can protect against lethal flying debris that might be encountered during a tornado with wind speeds up to 130mph,” said Mukaddes Darwish, PH.D., associate professor, Construction Engineering and Engineering Technology, at Texas Tech.

“Masonry veneer,” she said, “provides better protection than non-masonry materials, but vertically reinforced masonry walls and total masonry construction, which is the standard around the world, with the exception of the USA, is even better.

“That is why public schools are often built with total masonry construction consisting of reinforced concrete block interior walls and masonry exterior walls. They are built that way to protect our most valuable asset, our children,” Darwish said.

Noting that more than 150 Texas cities have included masonry requirements in their zoning ordinances, Garza said, “Texas has a rich history of building with long-lasting masonry products. Masonry is part of the Texas heritage, and by embracing masonry planning, city officials are helping to build a strong legacy for their communities and even save lives.”

About The Texas Masonry Council
The Texas Masonry Council represents the masonry manufacturers, suppliers, and contractors in Texas. The TMC assists communities seeking to enhance their appearance, safety, and long-term sustainability by incorporating masonry planning into their development plans. Visit http://www.masonryordinance.com.

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GREGORY GRAZE
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